The Superiority of Christ
The teaching of these teachers was based on subtle philosophical arguments. Among them was what Paul calls the “elemental spirits of the world,” a possible reference to spiritual, angelic beings who, according to Gnostic teaching, dominated the planets and other celestial bodies and filled the space (fullness) between men and God, functioning as mediators. Paul’s answer to this teaching is that in Christ dwells the fullness of deity bodily (2:8–9). Jesus Christ is God Himself incarnate as a man. There is no need for angelic mediators to reach up to God and reach perfection. Those who are in Christ by faith are already perfected (v. 10).
Similarly, requirements like the practice of the works of the law are unnecessary. Circumcision has been fulfilled through the baptism in Jesus’ name and is a superior circumcision (vv. 11–12). In His life, Christ fulfilled all the requirements of the law for His people. On the cross, He paid their debt (v. 14). The works of the law, such as dietary rules and the keeping of holy days, were like a shadow cast by the body of Christ, and once the body arrived, the shadow became unnecessary (v. 17).
Christ also triumphed over the principalities and powers, the angelic beings that, according to Gnostic teaching, dominated the basic elements of the universe (v. 15). Therefore, believers should reject the idea that it is necessary to worship the angels. Such teaching is the result of hallucinations of a sensuous mind (v. 18). In Christ, believers are dead to the “elemental spirits of the world” (v. 20).
The Sufficiency of Christ
And finally, the ascetic practices demanded by the false teachers as necessary to dominate sensuality and other sinful passions are useless. Actually, the ascetic rigor exhibited by the proponents of this teaching is self-worship or self-made religion. It has no power to stop the passions of the flesh (vv. 20–23). However, through union with Christ in His death and resurrection, believers can mortify the flesh and live for God (3:1–17).
Thus, Paul teaches the believers in Colossae that Jesus Christ is sufficient to meet all the needs of those who are His. Christ satisfies our thirst for wholeness. He satisfies our longing to know God, our deepest yearnings to be full. By daily communion with Christ through the means of grace, we find full satisfaction for all our needs. This satisfaction enables the Christian to serve God here in this world with a heart full of fervor and dedication. A happy heart in Christ empowers the believer to overcome sin and dedicate himself entirely to the service of his Lord and Redeemer.